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Comments to NHTSA on Civil Penalties for Violating Fuel Economy Standards

In December 2016, pursuant to the Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized a rule that adjusted civil penalties for car manufacturers that violate fuel economy standards, in order to line them up better with inflation. That rule put the penalties at $14 per tenth of a mile per gallon. NHTSA is now proposing a new rule to lower the penalties from $14 per tenth of a mile per gallon back to the previous rate of $5.50 per tenth of a mile per gallon, claiming that the $14 penalty would have a significant negative economic impact.

Our May 2018 comments argue that NHTSA should explain why it is justified in reducing the penalty from $14 to $5.50 and consider the forgone benefits when considering whether the civil penalties will have a “negative economic impact.” Because NHTSA has not provided this explanation, the proposed reduction is arbitrary and capricious.

Read our October 2017 comments on NHTSA’s proposal to reconsider the 2016 rule adjusting the civil penalties.

Read our amicus brief and expert affidavit in the suit against NHTSA over a delay of the 2016 penalties adjustment, a suit which resulted in a court vacating the delay.